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Hand Tools

Build a Welsh Stick Chair with Chris Williams

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 6:49am

Photo courtesy of Tim Bowen Antiques.

As many of you know, Chris Williams is writing a book (Kieran Binnie is the co-author) about the 10 years he spent with Welsh chairmaker John Brown, who was Chris’s mentor and friend. The book, which is well underway, will detail Brown’s woodworking life using Chris’s personal story, interviews with woodworkers all over the world and 20 of Brown’s best columns for Good Woodworking magazine.

In addition to the narrative of this influential woodworker and writer, the book will detail how Brown built his chairs using the techniques and patterns handed down to Chris.

This is not the same chair shown in Brown’s book “Welsh Stick Chairs.” That chair was one of Brown’s early forms. After more than a decade of work, the design of Brown’s chairs evolved into something else entirely. Something spectacular, really. Readers of Good Woodworking got a glimpse of these chairs in the 1990s, and these later chairs are what made me take up the tools and make chairs myself.

For a glimpse of this sort of work, I encourage you to visit Chris’s website and, more importantly, follow Chris on Instagram for a near daily look at his work.

To help re-introduce this style of chair to North America, we hope to bring Chris to our shop here in Covington, Ky., May 21-25, 2018, to lead a group of six woodworkers in building this chair. The class would be held in our storefront on Willard Street. Because of the intense nature of this class, we would encourage participants to have some chairmaking experience under their belts (or a lot of experience with handwork).

The Cost of the Class
The class would be $1,500 for the week plus a small fee for materials. This is a considerable expense for a week-long class, so an explanation is in order. For starters, this will be an intimate class – just six students, one instructor and an assistant (me). It will be a different experience than schools that have 12, 18 or even 30 students in a class. Second, we have to get Chris and his tools to Kentucky all the way from Wales. And, most importantly, we have to make it worth his while. This is not a Lost Art Press venture. Neither I nor Lost Art Press will make a dime off of this event. All the proceeds go to Chris to support his important work.

In addition to learning to make this gorgeous chair, participants also will learn a lot about Brown. Chris is filled with great stories about the man that could be pried loose with a pint or a glass of wine.


The Setting
Covington is a nice little city in the shadow of downtown Cincinnati. And the shop is walking distance to lots of hotels, restaurants, breweries and two of the best bourbon bars in the United States. The storefront is a great place to work – lots of natural light and workbenches.

We’ll be able to provide participants a list of nearby hotels and AirBnBs that range from $65 a night and up. Our shop is a 10-minute drive the Cincinnati International Airport (CVG) and we’re just a few blocks from I-75.

But before we plow forward on bringing Chris here, we’d like to hear from you. If you are interested in participating in this event, please leave a comment below. This will help us judge the interest among woodworkers. Thanks in advance for your help.

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com

Personal note: No, I’m not opening a school; nor am I returning to teaching. What do I get out of this? I get to watch Chris work and listen to his stories about Brown, which will make me a better editor for the book about John Brown. Plus, this class will help expose woodworkers to a fantastic chair design.

Filed under: John Brown Book, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

On seeing and being seen

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 4:17am

A knockout indeed

I’ve lost track of how many times people have written “So great to see a woman in the magazine!” following the publication of a project feature. For years I’d roll my eyes and think Never mind my gender. WHAT ABOUT THE WORK?

It’s thorny, this issue of gender representation in woodworking. You can say pretty much the same about race. When you’re the odd one out, it’s easy for readers to see only what makes you different. Which is galling when, for you, what matters is the work.

While I was on hold during a recent phone call, I glanced at Instagram and found myself tagged by Sarah Marriage at A Workshop of Our Own. She was commenting on a post by Phoebe Kuo. “Have you heard about our woodshop drinking game?” asked Sarah. “You take a shot every time you see a woman depicted working in the field of woodworking (ie, not a customer service rep with a headset asking you to call today) in a woodworking periodical. It’s usually safe for the woodshop because you never take a shot!”

Of course she was exaggerating (a little), as she acknowledged by referring to a recent issue of Fine Woodworking. I replied with a comment listing a few other publications that have recently featured work by women: Woodcraft, Furniture & Cabinetmaking, and most recently a cover feature in Popular Woodworking. But as I continued working into the evening and ruminated on Sarah’s remark, her point sank in: It’s important to go beyond publishing work by women to publishing images of women working. While it was exceedingly rare to see a woman in a workshop or on a building site just three decades ago when I started in the field, it’s verging on common today. But outside of publications directed specifically at women, the percentage of females to males in woodworking publications is still low.


Image from http://www.awfullibrarybooks.net. (Yes, that is the title of the site.)

This dearth of representation is not due solely to sexism. There are also some distinctly prosaic explanations, among them:

  • some women are so busy with commissioned work and other activities that they don’t want to take the time, which can be considerable, to propose, write, and do the hands-on work for an article, and
  • while some of us are set up to photograph ourselves, others (guilty!) are not. As a result, in publications that use photographs provided by authors, work by women is published more often than images of women doing the work. 

For years I felt like gagging at the mention of gender in relation to my profession. It wasn’t just the unintentionally demeaning remarks — “Did your husband teach you to do this?” It was the focus on the novelty of finding a woman in a field populated primarily by men. I just wanted to be Nancy Hiller, not a token female. Sarah and Megan Fitzpatrick have expressed the same frustration; no doubt many other women have, too. So why are we now paying so much attention to gender and calling for more images of women woodworkers?

Because we all need role models.

As a young woodworker, my models were men. Even without wanting to, I fell into the role of  “cute tough-girl in the shop.” That was how others (though thankfully not all of them) made clear they saw me. I was “decorative,” to use a frequently cited word. This worked fine as long as I was thin. But when I gained 40 pounds in response to a devastating heartbreak, the reactions to the female in the shop turned to pity — and occasionally disdain, such as when the foreman at one of the shops where I worked greeted me with a hearty “MOO” when I arrived one Saturday morning to put in some extra hours on a deadline-sensitive job. (Note: Despite my appearance, I was still doing the work.)

What would a mature, confident woman in a workshop look like? I had no idea. To be honest, the question didn’t even occur to me. Instead, I had a vague sense that I should get out of the field before the age of 40, because a mature woman in jeans and work boots would be, well, kind of scary. Or maybe people would assume, based on her work clothes and dusty appearance, that she was not very smart. She would definitely not look “professional” or “desirable.” I’m embarrassed to admit that I ever felt this way, that I had so thoroughly internalized female norms presented by advertising and publishing that 40 represented the end of the road for me as a woodworker.

This is one of the reasons why it’s important to present images of real women working. Not just demure young women with wood chips gathering on their chests while they use power tools, not just intentionally sexy babes using table saws, and not just tattooed tough-girls. We need to include women in mom-jeans and make-up, women of color, big strong women…you get the picture. In other words, we would like to see images of real women woodworkers, ideally in numbers proportionate to the population of women woodworkers, whether woodworking is their hobby or their job — pretty much as we do with men. (After all, not every man looks like Tommy Mac.)

As Megan pointed out in a recent Popular Woodworking editor’s letter, it’s hard to aspire to something for which you have no example. –Nancy Hiller, author of Making Things Work


Anissa Kapsales, editor at Fine Woodworking


Filed under: Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

My Latest Project, a Chest with lots of Dovetails.

David Barron Furniture - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 2:10am

Just in case you wondered about my last post, this is the reason I was getting ready to cut dovetails. The picture above shows just one of four corners on these drawers.

It's a petit chest of drawers standing 23" high made in chestnut, a wood I've never used before. It is similar to oak in it's feel and open grain and I was lucky enough to have a large board which was quarter sawn with some nice ripple as well. An detailed article on this piece will be appearing in Furniture and Cabinetmaking magazine in due course.

Categories: Hand Tools

errands after work.......

Accidental Woodworker - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 1:05am
The errands I did tonight weren't planned. My errand night is usually wednesday and tonight I also made a stop I wouldn't do a wednesday. All of this was because of a comment I got from Steve D.  He had gone to an Ocean State Job Lot in Conn but they didn't have any LED lights. I went back forth about getting 3 more tonight on the drive home.

I decided to stop and get them after I noticed that the truck was sucking gasoline fumes. I also had to make a grocery store stop so I decided to add the lights to list of things to do. I'm glad I did because there were only 5 left when I got there. When I left there were only two and the manager said that these were the last of them. Traffic wasn't too bad and I survived but my shop time was almost nothing tonight.

I guess nobody else knew abut these
I am done getting LED lights for the shop. The fluorescents I took down I'll put on the curb for whoever wants them. I will keep one to put in the boneyard. I'll put two of these up tomorrow. The third one I will have to install an outlet for. Where I want to put it will be too far for the cord to piggy back off another light.

not a lot of time tonight
I got the holes drilled for the pins in the second set of donkeys.

making four more pins
I chiseled a sort of a point on the bottom. It has to be small enough to fit in the first hole I'll drive it through.

3/8" hole is first

Beat it through the hole with a hammer. It's a great way to release frustrations and get a pin in the end.

it does a great job
need a helper
They pins don't pass completely through (usually) on the first try.

final pass through the 5/16" hole
I was knocking the point down with a chisel after each hole and I thought why? I made it small enough to fit in the 5/16" hole from the start and I did all four this way.

last one

ready to draw bore the first one
A friend at work asked how did I drive the pins through with it laying flat on the bench?

did it over a hole in wagon vise
pulled it tight and squeezed out some glue
disaster struck
I heard an ugly cracking noise and knew I wasn't going to see happy things.  I tried to drive the pins out and that made the crack open more. I was able to eventually get the foot off.

the foot is toast
I will have to make another foot but I intend to reuse the upright. Making a new upright would be a lot more work than making a new foot. Especially trying to chop the mortises for the bearer and the stretcher to line up with it's mate. I'll start the new foot tomorrow.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Who was Time's magazine second man of the year?
answer - Walter Chrysler in 1928

Making an infill plane from scratch 11, rear tote and infill assembly.

Mulesaw - Tue, 10/03/2017 - 3:11pm
After a lot of sanding, the rear tote seemed OK to me. And it was time to tackle the job of getting it mounted in the rear infill.
I drew some lines to work out from, sawed on the correct side of them with my small Japanese pullsaw, and got busy using the chisel to mortise out all the wood.
This part of the project also took quite some time, but in the end I had a nice snug fit of the rear tote.
The front transition could have been better, but since it will be covered by the blade 99% of the time, I decided that I would stick with the result.

A nice epoxy glue would have been my preferred medium if I had been at home, or a good wood glue a second choice.
Out here the only glue we have it some superglue and some too old winter grade glue where most of the solvents have vaporized over time, leaving the glue with a consistency like marshmallow.

I chose the marshmallow glue, because I have never really liked superglue or cyanoacrylate that much.
I might end up regretting it, but I figure that if everything else fails, I can still pour down a bit of superglue into the glue crack.

Clamping the assembly after gluing wasn't very easy. but I managed to secure it after a couple of attempts.

I believe that this glue has passed its prime.

Clamping arrangement of infill and tote.

Categories: Hand Tools

Building Crucible Inventory for Christmas

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Tue, 10/03/2017 - 2:50pm


During the last two months, John, Raney and I have been building up our inventory of dividers, holdfasts and design curves at Crucible Tool to ensure we don’t run out during the holidays.

We’ve also been working on a new product – a lump hammer – that we hope to launch before the end of the year. Details on the hammer will come in the next few weeks as we get the handles finalized (the heads are done and designed).

As a result of all this production work (plus my duties at Lost Art Press and finishing some furniture commissions), I have been lax in writing about our tools. But, on the other hand, I’ve been using the hell out of our tools in the shop.


Our iron holdfasts are as important to my work as my leg vise. They get hit dozens of times a day to secure doe’s feet or workpieces at my French workbench. These are the only holdfasts that haven’t failed me (you know, when you hit a holdfast and it only bounces in the hole). Even when I’m securing stuff 8” off the bench, these cinch down as gently or as fiercely as you like.

I also love how my holdfasts have aged during the last 18 months in my shop. They are dark grey and nicely dented. I’m glad we didn’t opt to powder coat them or attempt to block the natural aging process.

The improved pattern dividers are always on my bench. They’re in my hand when I’m thinking. They’re in my hand when I’m laying out joints. They sit on the bench as a reminder of what’s important – accuracy not precision. As these dividers have broken in, I’m glad we took the extra step to make the hinge’s tension adjustable. Some blacksmith-made dividers I have in my shop have some slop in the mechanism. When you move the tips, they adjust suddenly for about 1/16” and then move tightly. You can tighten these up with a hammer, but it’s tricky.

Ours do not have this slop. And the reason they don’t have slop is one of the reasons they cost what they do.


Interestingly, the design curves haven’t seen as much use as the other two tools. But I haven’t been doing much designing during the last few months. I’ve used them to help design the arm bow for a staked armchair I’m (still) working on. But these curves have mostly sat on my desk, waiting to be used. I can say they have remained quite flat all summer – yay for seven layers of bamboo.

So apologies for the silence on the front of Crucible Tool. You can expect more information about using our tools in the coming months – there’s lots to explore with these tools.

— Christopher Schwarz

Filed under: Crucible Tool, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

draw boring......

Accidental Woodworker - Tue, 10/03/2017 - 1:16am
It was cold this morning when I left for work. It wasn't the 45°F forecasted but a toasty 50°F which necessitated me wearing a light jacket. No problem with that as it is that time of the year. The temp when I left work to come home was 75°F. Did I remember to take my jacket with me? Nay, nay, I say moose breath. I left it hanging on the hook which means I either go to work tomorrow without a jacket or risk having my only two jackets left at work. The temp tomorrow is supposed to be higher than today's was. I'll see how cool it is tomorrow morning and decide then.

step one of making the draw bore pins
I found a piece of scrap oak about 3/8" thick that I sawed the pin stock from. I was hoping to get two pins from each piece.

I got lucky
I was able to rive each piece into two. All of them came out pretty straight and none of them wandered.

3/8 hole first then the 5/16 one
I picked the size of the pin strictly by eye. 1/4" looked too thin and 3/8 too wide so that left 5/16".

I need 8 and I made 12
I like having a few extras. You never what will happen when it comes time to put it together. Looking around for an extra pin because you dropped one and it rolled to parts unknown and the glue is dripping out of the hole.....

just got an ugly sinking feeling
These pins are too small. They look long enough but they aren't.

new pin stock
I only had one pin come out like this. All the rest are like the first short ones I did. I have eleven I can use to make new pins with. (I need 8)

tenon is too long
I marked the tenon and sawed it off on the inboard side of the pencil line. That way it will be a frog hair or two less then the length of the mortise depth.

first holes drilled for draw boring

why the first pins were too short
Because the holes in the mortise and tenon are offset, having a quasi pencil point on the entry end helps a lot. It allows the pin to get into the offset hole and then slide by it as it pulls the tenon down as you drive it all the way through. The short pin would have done that but I wouldn't have had a sufficient amount of the pin sticking out on both sides of the foot. The pencil end side hole would not have been fully closed because of the point on it.

I noticed this after I completed the mortises for the top bearer and the stretcher. I filled it with my gel glue and maybe that will stop it from spreading. I doubt it but it's worth a try.

front side
I didn't want to put the pins in line because of the grain direction on the foot. It would put a lot stress on that and maybe cause it to split. Putting them close to the shoulder would help pull the tenon down tight but I also wanted some meat between the shoulder and the top of the mortise too. I think that this was a good compromise.

the back side
show first and then tell how
I put this spacer in here to stop drill blowout.

marked the drill point on the tenon
used an awl to make a dimple above the drill point
drilled on my dimples
driving the pins home
I got glue on the tenon and some in the mortise. I could see the offset between the two holes. I put the pins in the holes and tapped them until I felt resistance. I didn't drive one pin all the way home and the do the other. I drove them home equally, a few taps on one and then a few taps on the other. I kept at this until the pins were proud on this side about a 1/4".

sawed the pins
 I will trim these flush tomorrow. I could probably do it now but I want to wait and give the glue a chance to set first.

bought a new molding plane
This is a center bead plane. I have a project stewing that I want to make a pilaster with beads on it. If I don't use it on that I'm sure I can find another use for it.

no fence
This needs something to run against to keep it straight. With a fence,  I could use this right and left handed. That would make planing with the grain easy.

look at how tight that boxing is
I did pretty good considering I didn't use a fence
I didn't get a nice bead like Josh did but I will play with it some more and get it to produce.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Where is the oldest US  State Capitol in continuous use located?
answer - Annapolis, Maryland (since 1772)

Making an infill plane from scratch 10, rear tote.

Mulesaw - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 3:45pm
My original plan called for a closed rear tote. During this project I have searched the Internet a lot, looking at all kinds of pictures of infill planes and their handles. I suppose that I could design my own, but one search (I think it "closed rear tote plane") revealed a picture of a classic closed rear tote from an old jointer plane. The good thing was that once I visited the homepage, I found that there was even a pdf of a full sized handle.
I downloaded the pdf and intend to use it as a muster for my tote. I will need to make some alterations to the front to get it to blend in with the rest of the plane, but it greatly help to have a starting point.

Now if I could just hope to make a handle that looks 1/10th as good as those handles that Pedder turns out.

An interesting thing about the closed rear tote is that it is described as being non symmetrical in the aft most part, where the palm of your hand will push your plane. Tee idea behind this is supposedly that it will make the plane more comfortable to use for someone who is right handed compared to a symmetrical tote. On the other hand it will make the plane more of a pain to use for anyone who is left handed.
At first I was  a bit undecided if I should go with symmetrical or asymmetrical. I was afraid that if I made it asymmetrical, most people would probably think that I did a crappy job in shaping the rear part of the tote.
But once I started I decided that I could always something else that was symmetrical, and this project is about making a plane that will be a joy to use, so I ended up doing it the way it was suggested.

I sawed out a piece of wood and tried to flatten it a bit with my plane, in order to get it close to the thickness I wanted (1" 1/16).
There was a lot of tear out, and in the end I had to traverse it with the scrub plane in order to get it to look reasonably OK.

The outline of the handle was traced onto the wood, and I drilled  a series of holes to remove the hole for the fingers, and also in the upper curve just beneath the end of the tote.
The trusty hacksaw helped removing the rest of the wood.
Since I haven't got a rasp, I needed to figure out another way to remove a lot of wood with a bit of precision, and at a decent speed.

My solution was to clamp the handle to a block of wood that was held in the vice, and then using the 1/4" chisel removing small chips along the edges. This method worked way better than I had expected. It was fast, efficient, fun and the handle very quickly took on the desired shape.

There is still a lot of work that needs to be done with a file and with sandpaper, but at least I got the job started out in a good way.

A thing that didn't turn out very well was the placement of the holes that I drilled back in post No 5 in this series. The upper hole for the rear infill was placed in a way that it just missed the surface of the bed for the blade by 1/16" or so. Since my plane is to use bushings inside the wood it meant that the bushing would protrude on the bed of the blade which would effectively ruing the plane.
That left me with two options, making a new rear infill with a bed angle of 70 degrees or so, or trying to stuff the holes.
I went for the stuffing job.

I used some sort of tapered reamer/router bit that I found in order to flare out the holes on the inside of the sole.
The real mistake happened when I tried to use the same bit in the drill press. It caught the hole and dug itself heavily into the metal before I manged to turn of the power.
So instead of a nice lightly flared symmetrical hole, I had a much too large asymmetrical ugly flared hole.
To make matters even worse, I started out by riveting the nice hole in the other side. That went really well, but it left me with a much more difficult job to peen the inside of the rivet in the ugly hole. Since I could no longer get the drift pin in from the other side (as I had just closed that hole with a rivet).
I hammered til I was afraid that I'd might hit the side itself, and then I stopped. The heads of the rivets on the inside were filed level, so that I could insert the rear infill again.
The outside was left after a couple of strokes of a file, because I figured that it was better to file all the rivets once I have assembled the entire plane.
At some point I need to drill another set of holes in that region of the plane. but I think I'll wait with that until I have the rear tote and infill glued together and ready for assembly.

Raw rear tote.

Using a chisel to shape the grip.

1/6" piece of iron to be used as a rivet.

Peening the first rivet on the inside.

Categories: Hand Tools

‘Roman Workbenches’ Isn’t Quite Right

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 3:20pm


Today I glued up my recreation of the Roman workbench from the Saalburg fort and museum outside Frankfurt, Germany. The Saalburg bench is, as far as I know, the oldest surviving workbench from about 187 A.D. And as I pounded home the maple wedges, I pondered how the title of my book – “Roman Workbenches” – isn’t quite correct.

While two of the benches I’ve built for this book are definitely Roman, with a third from the Holy Roman Empire, the thrust of the book isn’t about Rome or the workbenches that came from there. It’s about the workholding on early benches.


Thanks to the paintings dug up by Suzanne Ellison and the addition of my active imagination, the book is becoming a treatise on: “Look, you don’t need a lot of complex devices on your bench to build fine furniture. You just need to be smarter than physics.”

For about 1,500 years, these forgotten workbench appliances were common on both low benches and high ones. Then we became a mechanical people. We tried to make our lives easier by inventing devices that would assist us in our work. I’m sure there’s some formal name for this idea. Until someone tells it to me, I’m going to call it “Arthur’s Law.”

(W. Brian Arthur was an economics professor at Stanford University and is now at the Santa Fe Institute. He wrote in 1993: “Complexity tends to increase as functions and modifications are added to a system to break through limitations, handle exceptional circumstances or adapt to a world itself more complex.”)


I’m not saying complexity itself is a bad thing. Some systems are complicated. But many times we attempt to overcome a problem with additional complexity when the answer might actually be simplicity.

So while the glue dries on this bench I’m going to give the title of this book some more thought. Likely I’m going to stick with “Roman Workbenches” because that’s where the historical record of these benches begins.

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com

Filed under: Roman Workbenches, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Essential Tools for Dovetailing.

David Barron Furniture - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 10:23am

If you can't see what you are doing then you can't cut accurate dovetails. A good task light and reading glasses are essential for me. Even if you don't use reading glasses you should try some, the weakest lens no1 will give a small magnification which is very helpful.

Of course having good quality sharp tools is also very helpful!

Categories: Hand Tools

Evolution of a Space and Project Concept

The Barn on White Run - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 5:59am

The finished fourth floor was fairly late addition to the spatial configuration of the barn.  Originally I was content to leave it open all the way to the roof peak, providing almost 30 feet of soaring space from the main floor.

About 3-1/2 years ago Mrs. Barn suggested that I go ahead and finish off the entirety of the fourth floor instead of leaving it as some cobbled together staging for high work.  She being the smartest woman I know, I followed that advice.

I used the space for a subsequent Groopstock gathering but ever since it had served only as a place to put junk for which I could not find another home.  Ironically the completion of the floor deck made the space inside the barn seem even larger than before.

With the evolving ideas for undertaking video as a teaching tool, completing the space became a priority whose fulfillment was fairly straightforward.  One day with John and another by myself was all it took.

The video enterprise is less simple from a business perspective.  My very tight content model provides for professional production at a comparatively modest cost, but it is not free.  Even though I do not necessarily need to derive substantial revenue from video, it’s just a bit too expensive for me to treat it as a hobby to create any more than an occasional clip, and my vision of providing substantive learning resources was a fair bit more than that.  I am still mulling over a number of models for how to move forward with the project from a financial perspective.  They are by no means an exhaustive survey, mostly because my perspective on this is so limited.

The first option, and the one apparently favored by some woodworkers posting video on line, is to create product with essentially no production value or scripting, and simply give it all away via Youtube or Vimeo.  In some cases this works magnificently, but others, not so much.  Since I am committed to doing this first-rate if I do it at all, this was not something I gave any real consideration.  I might create short videos on occasion as free content that is not the route for fulfilling the objectives I have in mind.

Second is the option of trying to find advertisers or sponsors for the web site as a whole and/or the videos in particular.  I find advertising footprints on the web to be aggravating, and since my subject matter is so arcane it is probably not a likely avenue for me.

Third might be the option of placing the videos behind a subscription paywall available for members only.  Frankly I do not know enough about the technology and psychology involved, and need to converse with video bloggers who have trod this path.  I suspect that having a subscriber base renders one a complete slave to those subscribers who want more and more and more content.  Yesterday.  I subscribe to (and pay for) a couple news-ish podcasts, and while I appreciate and value the content it still sorta rubs me the wrong way for reasons I cannot fully identify.  I only hope it is not some incipient residue from living in an entitlement society.

Fourth, given the structure and content I am noodling for the videos, I am finding the Pay Per View concept to resonate most strongly with me.  I am envisioning a series of periodic videos produced at my own pace — about a dozen topics thus far — that are perhaps 90 to 120 minutes long, divided into quarter-hour-ish chapters.  Perhaps each chapter could be downloaded for 99 cents and the entire continuous video for $6.99-$9.99.  I’m pretty certain that this model would require teasers to be on Youtube and Vimeo.

Given my unfamiliarity with a lot of the attendant technology and marketing for these types of ventures, I am sure there are a multitude of creative ideas along these lines and I look forward to pushing back the boundaries of my own ignorance.

If you have any productive morsels to threw into the stew pot, let me know here to start the conversation.

As Aequus as Aqua

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 4:55am

Earth curve

Or, translated from the Latin: “As Level as Water.” As we explored ancient layout tools at length in “From Truths to Tools,” it became quite clear that the artisans of antiquity were no dummies. For example, we see from their tools and works that they understood that there was a difference between the curved “level” of a horizontal line and the straight “level” of a sight line. In fact, when they used the term “horizontal” to name the latter they were alluding to “horos,” the horizon, the boundary between water and sky.

How did they know that the earth they stood on was a sphere? Two things for starters, according to source documents: They observed the arc-line shadow of the earth falling on the moon during a lunar eclipse, and they watched ships disappearing on the horizon from the hull to the top of the mast (as opposed to the ship simply getting smaller and smaller). Why is this so important? Try building an aqueduct so it works properly or digging a tunnel accurately through a mountain without accounting for this difference.


If the trough of the aqueduct were constructed to a sight (or laser!) line level, the water would flow toward the center because the center, relative to the earth’s surface, is downhill from either end. Another problem that could arise if the support columns were constructed to meet the trough at right angles, is that the columns would only be plumb in one location. They would all be parallel, but that doesn’t make them right! (Literally: the forces on the un-plumb columns would have some amount of shear in them, leading eventually to distortion and ultimately failure.)


In tunnel work, the opposite problem arises: if they relied solely on horizontal level as the digging progressed from start points established by sight lines shot around the mountain from surrounding benchmarks, the tunnel would not exit at the predicted opposing point. Digging from either end, one tunnel would travel above the other and they would never meet. Note that the gradient drop of the earth’s curve is about 8′ per mile – and it’s not an additive (linear) increase, but exponential to infinity. To grasp this intuitively, picture the earth constantly curving away from the sight line. Eventually, at a point just past a quarter of the way around the sphere, a line dropped down square from the sight line would never reach the earth’s surface.

The more George and I immersed ourselves in research for this book, the more we gleaned about the tools and works of the artisans of antiquity and the smarter they started looking to us. The corollary was the dumber the guys in the mirror looking back at us each morning started to look! Obviously, not only is there is still so much more to learn, there is so much more to relearn!

— Jim Tolpin, byhandandeye.com

Filed under: From Truths to Tools, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

I got side tracked.......

Accidental Woodworker - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 1:13am
When I woke up this morning, the heat was on. It is October 1st and for the first time I can remember, the heat kicked in this early. I shut it off because the water in the boiler was low. I hadn't gotten around to prepping the furnace for the upcoming heating season yet. Maybe it's a good thing I caught this as the temps tonight are supposed to dip down into middle 40'sF (7°C). And I'm not alone with the swings in the temps as a few others have commented on it too.

The weirdness continues with the daytime temps. Tomorrow temps will be in the high 60's F (20ish C) and tuesday it will climb to 74°F (23° C). As long as it cycles like this I don't care. As long as I am still working, I don't want it to snow. The cold I can handle, but snow sucks. Especially on work days.

this prompted a change
This is another annoying trait of these 4x4 donkeys. They rock like crazy and it is very hard to find a spot on the deck that these feet will lay flat on. I could kind of fix that by gluing a pad on the ends and I might do that if I remember it. On the new saw donkeys I am going to saw a relief.

step one
 Clamp two feet together using the marked detail to ensure the bottoms of each are touching.  Mark where the start of the hole will be. I used the inboard start of circle on the tops for mine.

drill your hole
 I am going for a 1/2" so I'm using a 1" forstner bit. The point of the bit in right on the joint line.

drill a through hole
mark a line from the top of one semi-circle to the other and saw it out
all the details sawn out
I'm starting the clean up with the uprights. I am going to do the majority of the cleanup with the two of them clamped together. The final smoothing and finessing I'll do individually.

most of the shaping was done with this rasp
followed by this finger sander
These are great little sanders. The sandpaper is hook & loop and it lasts forever seemingly. The yellow holder is soft and squishy and will conform to bumps and hollows. My fingers still hurt after using this but nowhere like they hurt when I hold the sandpaper with my fingers.

The small circular flare outs on the sides I cleaned up with 60/150/220 grit wrapped around a 5/16" dowel.

I have three grits 80,120, and 220
drawer for the sandpaper
the big boy
I liked the small ones so much I got the big one too. It only has one holder and it is H&L too. It comes with the same 3 grits also (as far as I know). I got the both of these at Lowes and if my memory is still intact, I think they are made by Shopsmith(?).

worked on the feet in pairs too
 I started at the top and worked down to the bottom. The angle at the very bottom I did in the vise with a block plane.

the other end needs more work
When I laid these out I did it on the same side but when it came time to bandsaw them I got a hiccup. I could the do the left side but on the right side I had to flip it over but I hadn't marked that side. My bandsaw has a 14" throat and the legs are 21".  Corrected that and now I have to even out these two with the inboard one being proud.

japanese straight line rasp
The Auriou rasp isn't meant for hogging this much wood off so I tried the japansese one. I got nowhere trying to remove wood from the high foot with this rasp.. It would not bite at all no matter how I held or pushed it. Swearing and threatening it did nothing neither.

this one worked
This is a very rough rasp and it will hog off a lot of wood in a hurry.

downside of this rasp
Using this on DF isn't helping the home team because this rasp loves to rip out and cause massive blowouts on the exit side. DF doesn't need any help with splintering or blowing out on the edges. I was aware of this and I was being careful but before I could even think of saying 'aw shit', it had already happened. I managed to knock down quite a bit of the high but I still had a wee bit more to do. Before I could do that I had to address the blowout first.

had one on the other side I didn't notice that I superglued too
This is a gel type instant glue that isn't instant. It takes a few minutes to set and harden. It also doesn't grab and hold on it's own and needs help from the blue tape. In spite of all the hiccups, I like this glue and I accept these as part of using it. I haven't had anything fail on me since I've been using it.

worked on the bottom of the other foot
I used a dowel  wrapped with sandpaper to clean up the round parts. In spite of using a forstner bit, the drilled hole wasn't as smooth as I expected. Another fun part of working with DF. I cleaned up the area between the rounds with a spokeshave and a small block plane. I didn't go nutso on this, I just smoothed it and got rid of the bandsaw marks.

a special celebration dance will be held in Mudville tonight
I had to make a sandpaper run because I didn't have anymore so I decided to go to Ocean State Job Lot. As soon as I walked in the front door I saw these LED workshop lights. BFD I thought to myself,  another ripoff. But then I saw the price which was $14.99 per fixture. Now this is the what these should cost and these are 5000K which is almost like daylight.

I went off quickly and checked on the sandpaper and they didn't have any 80 or 60.  So I grabbed 4 of the LED lights and headed back to the barn. This was a very serendipitous errand for me. I've been searching for a reasonably priced LED light and I stumbled onto these. The closest priced ones to these that I've been eye balling are in the 30-40 dollar range.

Lowes sells T8 replacement LED lights for $12 which is reasonable (barely) but all my fixtures are T12s and they are not interchangeable. I even looked on eBay for T8 fixtures thinking I could buy a few cheap and then buy the T8 LEDs from Lowes. I don't have to do that anymore.

another blowout to deal with
While this one is setting up I decided to install one of the LED lights to see what kind of light that they would throw out.

the before pic
I am doing the one in front of the cabinet I just made because it is the easiest one to swap out in the shop. The 4 LED lights I bought will do the bench area of the shop. These weren't in the budget for this week but I couldn't pass up this deal.

the after pic
Only one LED light installed and WOW.  WOW again and again. I can not believe how much light this one fixture puts out.

two LED lamps installed
This is an unbelievable amount of light. My cataract, eye glass wearing peepers are thanking me profusely. Have I said, WOW again and again, yet?  The intensity of the lights is very welcomed and it may take a while for me to get used to it. The 4 fluorescent lamps I would say that they put out maybe 1/2 of the light the LED lights do. Everything is lot clearer and in focus and I still have two more to install.

look at the dust on the top of this florescent fixture
I'm firing this housekeeper.  For now I'm putting the LED lights where I had the fluorescents. I may change and move them around after I have had a chance to work under them for a while.

3 down and one to go
they have an unneeded pull chain
All my shop lights are turned on/off with a switch. I pulled this and then taped it up on the top out of the way.

WOWIE - all four lamps
My shop is flooded with light now. It's hard for me to fathom what a huge difference these LED lamps make. By the way, buying and installing these was my side track.

made another road trip and got two more
I had two LED lamps installed previously in the shop, one over the tablesaw and one over the sharpening bench. There are only two fluorescent lights on this side of the shop so I bought and installed two more. Maybe I'll be able to see see what I'm sawing on the bandsaw now.

 I trashed the shop installing all these new lights. I didn't finish the new saw donkeys and I didn't get my dolly made neither.  But hey, I got new lights that will help me when hold field day on the shop next week.

LEDs done and it was back to the saw donkeys
This set is ready for glue up. I've planed off all the labels and pencil marks. I also relabeled the parts on the ends so I can glue it up in the right order. The back foot has some blowout being glued so I'll have sand that part up a bit before glue up. It has blue tape on it so I can't miss it.

forgot to bandsaw this vertical cut
I chopped it off with a chisel. I started by out lining the top.

came in from the bottom next
It took a while going back and forth but I eventually got it. I took my time because I did not want to make another foot if this went south on me.

I like this profile
Most of the profiles I see on feet consist of a round with two flats like I have on my sharpening bench. I wanted something different for the donkeys and it gives me a visual for planing the detail on my new workbench.

second set ready to glue up
I stayed in the shop long enough to whack out the second set. Installing the lamps ate up a fair bit of time and all the clean up on the donkeys made my fingers start singing arias. On a brighter note, cleaning up the second set of donkeys under the new LED lights was a huge improvement.

I will have to clean up the shop and that will take precedent over the donkey glue up most likely. We'll see what shakes out when I start that fun adventure. The glue up of the donkeys didn't happen today sports fans.

two left
This is payday week and I hope that Job Lot has two more of these left come friday. These two lamps are to the rear of the tablesaw  and I consider it part of the workshop. The laundry table in front of the washer and dryer has a lot of my hand tools on the bottom shelf. I may put a third one in by the furnace. According to the directions with the lamps you can string up to four of them together.

accidental woodworker

trivia corner
Who was the original host of the game show Jeopardy (before Alex Trebek)?
answer - Art Fleming

Editor’s Journal: Summer is Over

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sun, 10/01/2017 - 3:37pm


On Friday – I think it was Friday – I had my first normal day since June 7, which is the day I left for Germany to see the Saalburg workbench and teach at Dictum GmbH.

Since that trip I’ve been on a nonstop schedule of traveling, taking care of unexpected (and important) family business and trying to keep up with all my publishing obligations. I failed spectacularly. Everything got so crazy that I had to do something very unusual: I canceled my trip last month to the UK and the European Woodworking Show.

While I regret missing that trip, those seven days were a gift and helped me get back on my feet. I was able to take care of some pressing family stuff, finish up some furniture commissions, complete a magazine article I was two months late on and get “From Truths to Tools” and “Carving the Acanthus Leaf” on a fast track to the printer.

So on Friday, I woke up and drank two cups of coffee. I opened my calendar and saw the day was empty. Absolutely clear. I decided to turn off my phone, leave my laptop closed and focus on building my reproduction of the Saalburg workbench for a forthcoming book. Thanks to that day of bliss, the bench now needs just a little cleaning up before I assemble it.

I just opened my calendar for the coming week. Monday is clear. So I think it’s going to be finished by Tuesday.

This post is a reminder (to myself) that somethings have to fall apart. And it’s an apology to all the people I owe phone calls and emails to. I’ll get to them in the next week or so. Just as soon as I have just a few more empty days of healing handwork. I wish I could bottle that stuff.

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com


Filed under: Roman Workbenches, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Coming Soon: Limited Edition LAP Hats

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sun, 10/01/2017 - 1:22pm


Later this month we will offer a limited run of 100 Lost Art Press baseball caps that feature the “marriage mark” symbol from “The Anarchist’s Design Book.” And, exciting for us, the hats are being embroidered and stamped by our friends at Texas Heritage Woodworks.

This hat is the first in a line of apparel products that we are working very hard on to make as special as our books. More items are already in the works. Here are the details on the hats.

For the last few years we’ve used US-made hats from Bayside. They are OK, but they aren’t the kind of “I want to wear this hat every day until it becomes rags” hat. So we’ve decided to do something we don’t normally do: We’re using the Chinese-made but completely excellent hat from Adams.


This was the first brand of hat we started using about eight years ago. It is very well-made, breaks in beautifully and has lots of nice details: a mesh liner, a leather adjusting strap and a brass buckle. We can’t find a domestic hat that’s made this well at almost any price (unless you want to pay $100 for a hat).

We sent the hats to Texas Heritage Woodworkers last month and Sarah Thigpen has been busy embroidering them in their shop and stamping the leather strap on the pack with the Texas Heritage Woodworks logo. If you have any of Sarah or Jason’s work (such as their best-in-class tool rolls), you know the work is going to be crisp. Perfect.

The hats will be $27, which includes shipping in the United States (if this hat thing works out we’ll expand it to other countries).


When we have all the hats in-house, we’ll announce a time and day they will go up for sale in the Lost Art Press online store.

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com

Filed under: Products We Sell, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

Modern Pear - Moderne Birne

Two Lawyers Toolworks - Sun, 10/01/2017 - 10:33am
the first modern saw pollywog for a more than a year. Die erst "moderne" Säge - Kaulquappe- seit mehr als einem Jahr Pedderhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12692353908068506678noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Hand Tools

Announcing Publication Date

Close Grain - Sun, 10/01/2017 - 8:05am

Book cover, showing the plane till in my basement workshop.

I'm very excited to announce the publication date for my book, Hand Tool Basics, from Popular Woodworking Books: January 12, 2018!

It will be available for pre-order at ShopwoodWorking.com in mid-November. The price will be $34.99. As a bonus, I'll also be posting SketchUp images here of some of the jigs in the book.

The book is a direct companion to my video series, Intro to Hand Tools. The images are taken from the raw video I recorded for the series. The organization and content of the book match the series.

The book is therefore a visual reference, with some 1400 captioned photos.

Why produce a book version identical to the video series? Several reasons:
  • Some people prefer learning from videos. Some people prefer learning from books.
  • It's nice to have both so you can sit back and watch the videos, then have the book with you on the workbench as you follow the steps for a procedure.
  • The dynamic images in the video allow you to watch the tools in motion, while the static images in the book allow you to take your time examining details like how to hold a tool. 
A big thank you to the editing and layout team at Popular Woodworking! They did an outstanding job with the written and photographic material I supplied.

The images here are screen shots from the author review document, so the image quality is reduced from the final copy, but they show what to expect.

Here are the full Contents and Index pages so you can see what's covered. As always, I like to show multiple ways of doing things, so you can tackle any situation based on the tools you have available, your personal preferences, and your current skill level.

Here are some sample pages representative of the layout and level of detail in the book.

From Chapter 1: The Tools, showing a selection of the tools covered.

From Chapter 5: Mortise and Tenon Joinery, showing some of the fistfights and fundamentals.

From Chapter 6: Dovetail Joinery, showing some of the steps laying out and sawing a tails-first through-dovetail.

Once it's out, feel free to email me at sdbranam@gmail.com if you have any questions about anything you see. One of the challenges in a book is getting just the right explanation that conveys the information to all readers regardless of their experience and skill level, and sometimes that fails.

Categories: Hand Tools

‘Unmodeling’ Old Buildings

Lost Art Press: Chris Schwarz - Sun, 10/01/2017 - 6:44am


After two years of enduring our search for an old building in Covington, our real estate agent showed us something a bit different. It was a large and beautiful unit in an old commercial building. There was a storefront on the bottom. Living space up above. But here’s what was different than every other place we’d seen:

The entire building had been gutted and redone with new everything – mechanicals, plaster, flooring, windows. It even had off-street parking. All we had to do was pick the paint colors. The price was a bit higher than we wanted to pay. But to that the agent said:

“By the time you fix up a place in your price range, you’ll have spent way more than this place costs.”

She was absolutely right. I knew it the moment she said it. But still we said, no thanks.

For me, fixing up an old building is about uncovering the original intent of the builder, removing as much of the modern “improvements” as possible and gently restoring the place back to its original appearance.

During the restoration of the storefront area at 837 Willard Street, we’ve removed thousands of feet of wiring, lots of plumbing and significant amounts of silly ductwork. From the building’s floor, I think we’ve pulled up almost 3” of old floor. The plaster walls had been layer caked in plywood, wainscotting, then stud walls, drywall and then ridiculous moulding.


Justin is the muscle in our demolition efforts. He removed this section of wall with his bare hands.

On Saturday we turned our attention to the garage out back, which will become my machine room. It’s a circa 1905 cinderblock structure that was listed on the city’s fire insurance maps as a stable. So we call it the “horse garage.”

Most of the advice from my friends and neighbors has been along the lines of, “Tear it down and build what you want. It will look better and be cheaper.”

They’re probably right. But that thought won’t enter my head. Once you tear down an old building, it’s gone forever. You can’t bring it back. If a structure can be saved, I think it should be saved.

I may someday regret this attitude. And that day may come this week.


Megan hauls out an early layer crap from the horse garage. She is wicked with a recip saw.

Megan Fitzpatrick, Justin Leib and Brendan Gaffney all pitched Saturday in for a full day of demolition, which filled a 20-yard roll-away dumpster. (I’ll probably have to fill it twice more as I remove the modern gabled roof this week.)

As in the main structure, the stable was layers and layers of crap on the walls and ceilings. The most interesting find from the day was evidence that the stable had been used as a small apartment or house, probably in the 1960s. One of the stable doors had been altered to have a window surrounded by plaster. The other stable door had been converted into an entryway door. And a good deal of abandoned plumbing pointed out where a bathroom and kitchen had been.


In addition to gutting the horse garage, we also removed some modern drywall in the main structure. Here Brendan uses some of his training from the College of the Redwoods (now the Krenov School) to vacuum away what we hope is some blow-in insulation.

Despite all the dust, bugs and debris, we did have one good omen on Saturday: We didn’t find any glitter.

And now to the roof.

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com

Filed under: Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized
Categories: Hand Tools

classic vs. pollywog, teaser

Old Ladies - Pedder's blog - Sun, 10/01/2017 - 6:33am
Jonas ask for a picture with both types of handles in one picture.
There you are. Double use: Teaser for Brian. And: the first ebony handle completly finiehed by me. Klaus did the shaping, though.

resanding the pollywog
hardly visible: this is riple ebony
Categories: Hand Tools

If it’s a QFBR, they should send it to @periodcraftsmen.

Giant Cypress - Sun, 10/01/2017 - 3:28am

If it’s a QFBR, they should send it to @periodcraftsmen.


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